Archive for the ‘community newspapers’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/12/08

February 16, 2008

LWV urges ‘neutrality’ on access to Web sites
by Wynne Parry
Stamford Advocate (CT)

The state League of Women Voters reached out to its members last night in a discussion at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library, asking them to consider supporting the position that Internet service providers not interfere with users’ ability to access Web sites.  The issue, known as “Net neutrality,” was one of three the league put before members of its newly revived Stamford chapter. If approved, the league will formally adopt these positions.

“Internet service providers should not serve as gatekeepers,” said Cheryl Dunson, advocacy director of the state league. “If you get online, you should have access to the full and entire scope of the Internet.”  In other words, the Christian Coalition Web site should load as fast as Planned Parenthood…

League representatives also asked members to endorse the position that government should encourage efficient and affordable high-speed Internet access, including free access at libraries and other public buildings…

The league is also considering a position that community access television must be protected.  New legislation allowing phone companies to compete with cable companies to provide cable service may affect community access channels, according to Carole Young-Kleinfeld, the state league’s vice president of communications.   —>,0,1371935.story

County Board meetings to be shown on cable TV
by Jorge Sosa
Hutchinson Leader (MN)

[comments allowed]

Hutchinson Community Video Network will soon add a new reality show to its lineup — the McLeod County Board meetings.  County Commissioner Sheldon Nies said the County Board supports telecasting of their meetings, with HCVN’s help, beginning Feb. 19.  The local cable channel already airs Hutchinson City Council meetings, but HCVN Board Member Barry Anderson said the channel received many requests to see the County Board in action.   —>

Mayors meet with Bredesen, lawmakers
State of economy discussed during courtesy visit
by Bonna Johnson
The Tennessean

[comments allowed]

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, along with the mayors of Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga, made a courtesy call to Gov. Phil Bredesen and legislative leaders Monday.  “We went in to talk about the interest of the cities and to see if there is anything we can do to help the governor and basically talked about the state of the economy,” Dean said.

Dean said he did not talk to the governor about any issues specific to Nashville.  But outside the governor’s office, Dean did talk with reporters about his position on a few state issues….He is staying neutral in the battle between AT&T and Comcast on cable franchising.  “We’ll see what happens before we take a position,” he said. Without taking sides though, he said, he is “generally pro competition.”   —>

There’s Nothing Mainstream About the Corporate Media
by Harvey Wasserman
Huffington Post


As we stumble toward another presidential election, it’s never been more clear that our political process is being warped by a corporate stranglehold on the free flow of information. Amidst a virtual blackout of coverage of a horrific war, a global ecological crisis and an advancing economic collapse, what passes for the mass media is itself in collapse. What’s left of our democracy teeters on the brink.

The culprit, in the parlance of the day, has been the “Mainstream Media,” or MSM.  But that’s [the] wrong name for it. Today’s mass media is Corporate, not Mainstream, and the distinction is critical.  Calling the Corporate Media (CM) “mainstream” implies that it speaks for mid-road opinion, and it absolutely does not.

There is, in fact, a discernable, tangible mainstream of opinion in this country. As brilliant analysts such as Jeff Cohen, Norman Solomon and the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) organization have shown, the “MSM” is very far to the right of it.   —>

Flashback to 2002: Is U.S. Big Media Still Brainwashing Us?
Pepperspray Productions’ “Indymedia Presents”
02/12/08 (?)

[comments allowed]

In the last few years many Americans have come to believe that the war in Iraq is wrong.  Fewer it would seem, have the same opinion about the war against Afganistan.  You decide.  Let’s go back with US Representative Jim McDermott.   —>

Nonprofit journalism on the rise
At a time of layoffs and budget cuts at traditional newspapers, foundations and donors are funding new journalism ventures.
by Randy Dotinga
Christian Science Monitor

San Diego – The police chief’s rosy crime statistics were a lie, it turned out. The councilman who urged water conservation was discovered to use 80,000 gallons a month at his home, more than five of his colleagues put together. And the school board president, according to an investigation, spent a full third of his time out of town and out of touch.

The Voice of San Diego, a nonprofit online media outlet, doesn’t have enough journalists to field a softball team. Yet it has managed to take on the powerful with the panache of a scrappy big-city paper.  It provides “the best coverage of city politics that we’ve had in years,” raves Dean Nelson, a journalism professor at San Diego’s Point Loma Nazarene University.

The success of the tightly focused Voice, which relies on donors, offers a ray of hope for a troubled industry. Plagued by shrinking circulations and advertising, newspapers are shedding staff and downsizing their offerings. Even the pages have gotten smaller.  By contrast, several nonprofit newspapers – though rare and often tiny – have sprung up in recent years both online and in print, funded largely by foundations and individual donors.  The strategy of nonprofits like the Voice “may be one of the ways to preserve the integrity of journalism,” says Mr. Nelson.   —>

When A Bunch of People Become Community
by Jim Benson
Evolving web

[comments allowed]

No matter how far removed my daily life gets from Urban Planning (I was a real-life urban planner for about 20 years), it still amazes me how I’m still right in the middle of it. Today on Twitter, Shel Israel sent out a note about a great post by Laura Fitton called “Twitter is my Village.”  Her posts cover the basic aspects of community.  Transportation, Culture, Commerce, and Continuity.   —>

ITP in Wikipedia
by Jon Swerdloff
Swerdloff Version 5.0

[comments allowed]

I have had a lot of people ask me – “Swerdloff” they say, because that’s what people call me, “Swerdloff, what the hell are you doing?” And I say “I’m at ITP!” and they say “um OMG WTF ITP?” or they say “What’s that” depending on whether it’s an IM or an in-person thing. Invariably, I point them to the ITP website and then describe a project or two or three if they still don’t get it. Maybe a fourth if they ask “what do you plan to do with this degree, exactly?”

I try metaphor – “It’s art for technologists” “technology for artists” “We’re building the future” “Second wave technologies built on things we tear up” “Hogwarts for hackers” or as Clay described it to me yesterday, “the center for the recently possible” which I like.

It’s very difficult going to a not-product-based incubator, a space that’s not art school but aims at artists, that’s not engineering but aims at engineers, and that’s not really definable. Particularly when you are studying identity! Also when your friends are lawyers, writers, bankers, bloggers, and other -ers that are easily defined.

I’ve copied and pasted the Wikipedia entry on ITP, strangely listed within the Tisch School page. I say strangely because despite having space there and sharing elevators (hello ladies of the drama department…) we really don’t interact with them much. Doubly ironic, since we’re the Interactive telecommunications program, and we don’t interact. Get it? Not in the 10,000 spoons way… ok shut up.  So, I reproduce this here for your pleasure. With luck, it’ll start to give you a sense of what I’m doing. And as you can see, after many years away – I’m back.

Tisch School of the Arts – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  “The Interactive Telecommunications Program is a pioneering graduate department focused on the study and design of new media, computational media and embedded computing under the umbrella of interactivity.

“Founded in 1979, the origins of the program date back to 1971 when George Stoney and Red Burns created the Alternate Media Center (AMC). ITP grew out of the work of the AMC, and set the stage for the experimentation which would follow as well as the informing spirit of collaboration, and the ongoing emphasis on crafting social applications and putting the needs of the user first. A pioneering center for application development and field trials, the AMC initially focused on exploring the then-new tool of portable video made possible by Sony’s introduction of the Portapak video camera.”   —>

Better Than Free
by Kevin Kelley
The Technium


The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way several times. IT companies make a lot of money selling equipment that facilitates this ceaseless copying. Every bit of data ever produced on any computer is copied somewhere. The digital economy is thus run on a river of copies. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free.

Our digital communication network has been engineered so that copies flow with as little friction as possible. Indeed, copies flow so freely we could think of the internet as a super-distribution system, where once a copy is introduced it will continue to flow through the network forever, much like electricity in a superconductive wire. We see evidence of this in real life. Once anything that can be copied is brought into contact with internet, it will be copied, and those copies never leave. Even a dog knows you can’t erase something once it’s flowed on the internet.


This super-distribution system has become the foundation of our economy and wealth. The instant reduplication of data, ideas, and media underpins all the major economic sectors in our economy, particularly those involved with exports — that is, those industries where the US has a competitive advantage. Our wealth sits upon a very large device that copies promiscuously and constantly.

Yet the previous round of wealth in this economy was built on selling precious copies, so the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?

I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.

When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Well, what can’t be copied?

There are a number of qualities that can’t be copied. Consider “trust.” Trust cannot be copied. You can’t purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you’ll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.

There are a number of other qualities similar to trust that are difficult to copy, and thus become valuable in this network economy.  I think the best way to examine them is not from the eye of the producer, manufacturer, or creator, but from the eye of the user. We can start with a simple user question:  why would we ever pay for anything that we could get for free? When anyone buys a version of something they could get for free, what are they purchasing?

From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/12/07

October 12, 2007

Broadcasting Peace – Radio a Tool for Recovery
by Mary Kimani
Africa Renewal (United Nations)

Radio can be a powerful medium for spreading misinformation and insecurity – and for building peace.

Mega FM’s broadcasts may not reach far outside northern Uganda. But in an area that has been brutalized by decades of insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), it is having an impact. Oryema, a former LRA child soldier who later returned home, explains why. “I did not feel anything bad about killing,” he says. “Not until I started listening to Radio Mega…. I actually heard over the radio how…we burnt homes…. And I started to think, ‘Are we really fighting a normal war?’ That is when I started realizing that maybe there is something better than being here in the bush.”

According to Mr. Boniface Ojok of the non-profit project Justice and Reconciliation, located in Gulu, northern Uganda, Mega FM’s programme “Dwog cen paco” (come back home) “succeeded in encouraging rebels to come out of the bush.” The programme brought former soldiers like Oryema on the air to talk about their experiences. —>

Through Our Eyes
ARC’s Participatory Video Communications Project to prevent gender-based violence
American Refugee Committee International

[ Watch video of the first Through Our Eyes training workshop ]

During times of war and armed conflict, traditional community support systems fall away. People become extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, especially women and children. ARC has partnered with Communication for Change to create the Through Our Eyes Participatory Communications Project. The goal of Through Our Eyes is to break through the secrecy that surrounds gender-based violence in post-conflict settings and empower local communities to raise awareness and promote change.

Participants are working together to create videos and audio tapes that will be used as teaching tools in their own communities, and as advocacy tools in the world community to raise awareness about gender-based violence. —>

Martin: Untying, Unbundling Cable Programming Would Help Minorities
FCC Chairman Discusses Initiatives to Help Minorities
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable


photo by Rob McCausland

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin was both applauded and prodded at a media conference devoted to empowering minorities to wrest at least some of the media agenda from the major players.

Rainbow/PUSH founder The Rev. Jesse Jackson led his lunch audience in a little call and response Friday. “Better that we lease than rent,” he said. “Better that we own than lease,” he added, as the primarily African-American crowd echoed him in his call to the “mountaintop.”

That followed a luncheon speech at a Rainbow/PUSH media conference in Washington, D.C., Friday by Martin in which he proposed a number of FCC moves to help minorities, including lowering leased-access rates and leasing excess digital-TV spectrum to designated entries, including minorities, to increase digital voices.

Jackson called for, and got, a standing ovation for Martin for being willing to come and discuss minority issues. Also in attendance were Democratic commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, who were described at one point in an earlier press conference as the “eyes and ears” of minority issues at the FCC, and Republican commissioner Robert McDowell. —>

AT&T to try again for statewide video permits
by Jake Jost (TN)

AT&T will again ask Tennessee lawmakers for authority to add video services without having to get city and county franchises. AT&T is hoping for a fresh start in 2008 after a failed attempt this year to get approval for a change that would allow itself and others to operate with a single franchise agreement.

AT&T wants Tennessee lawmakers to allow it to provide video services in Tennessee without having to obtain franchises in each city or county where it wants to operate. Franchise agreements specify how cable and video businesses may operate and what local taxes and fees they must pay. Existing cable companies traditionally have negotiated individually with local governments. —>

Town at odds with AT&T over U-verse
New Haven Register (CT)

Wallingford — Democratic Councilman Michael Brodinsky told his colleagues on the Town Council Tuesday night that he is concerned the town’s three local cable access channels are getting short-changed by AT&T’s new television service offering.

Brodinsky said AT&T’s U-verse television service — which provides programming via the Internet — does not carry the local access channels and that many residents subscribing to the offering aren’t aware of that. Brodinsky said AT&T officials have told him that the channels won’t be on the U-verse system for at least five months, and then only if the town spends $5,000 for special equipment and other fees.

“They are making money in this town, and I don’t think we should have to pay this,” Brodinsky said of the one-time expenditure of $5,000 to buy an encoding device and between $2,100 and $3,000 a year for the town to have dedicated high-speed Internet lines that he said AT&T is requiring from local access providers…

Resident Susan Huizenga, who is chairwoman for the Cable Advisory Council for the seven towns, including Wallingford, that are part of Comcast Cable’s Branford system, said she is concerned that the picture quality of local access programming will not be viewable because of the encryption technology.

That position was echoed by Scott Hanley, who manages the town’s government access television, which telecasts the council meeting on Comcast. “The video is going to come up on a Windows Media screen, similar to what you get when you play videos on your computer,” Hanley said. “It’s not going to be full screen.” Hanley said local access officials statewide are set to meet with AT&T officials Oct. 29 to address their concerns. —>

Battle over AT&T’s U-verse TV service rages on
by David Krechevsky
Republican-American (CT)

The legal battle over AT&T’s U-verse television service continued this week on two fronts, with each side now looking to have competing rulings tossed out. Meanwhile, AT&T’s subscriber base for U-verse continues to grow despite the legal twists and turns.

Wednesday, AT&T asked federal Judge Janet Bond Arterton in U.S. District Court in New Haven to declare that her ruling this past summer that U-verse is a cable television service was made moot by a new state law that took effect Oct. 1. The law, “An Act Concerning Certified Competitive Video Service,” allows AT&T to apply for certification for its service instead of having to seek a cable TV franchise.

Arterton ruled in July that U-verse is a cable TV service as a result of lawsuits filed against state regulators by the Office of the Consumer Counsel, the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association and cable television companies. The lawsuits sought to overturn the state Department of Public Utility Control’s 3-2 decision in June 2006, which declared that U-verse is not the same as cable TV and allowed AT&T to offer it without seeking a cable franchise. After the judge ruled, AT&T asked her to reconsider, but that motion was denied last week.

In the wake of that denial, the state consumer counsel and attorney general filed motions with the DPUC on Wednesday asking it to vacate its June 2006 decision. The motion states that Arterton’s ruling means AT&T should have been required to seek a cable franchise before offering its service, and, because it did not, has been operating U-verse in violation of state and federal law. —>

Citizen-produced TV programs coming of age
by Naohiko Takahashi
Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan)

Citizen-produced cable TV programs offering local information have been attracting attention as a way of revitalizing community ties, while also giving talented individuals a breakthrough they might otherwise never have had.

One day earlier this month, about 10 members of a broadcasting station in Chofu, Tokyo, sat around a large screen and busily checked programming schedules for the month. “Let’s cut some of the narration,” one member of the civic broadcasting station Community Access Television Chofu (CATC) said, while another suggested, “How about changing the order of the scenes?”

Being screened was a five minute program about a local university that was teaching children how to assemble a radio. The program will be broadcast on a regional information cable channel. “We pick up minor topics that terrestrial TV stations and newspapers don’t cover, but which are important to local areas. In fact, there’s usually a good response from citizens because they’re featured in the programs,” station representative Mikiko Ono said.

CATC programs are planned and produced by Chofu residents who offer their services voluntarily. “We want to show off the good things about Chofu ourselves,” one member said.

The scheme was launched in April 2006, and the team now broadcasts Chofu-related programs several times a month. Among the topics covered have been the traditional bamboo work undertaken by local craftsman and the history of Chofu Airport. “We’re sticking closely to local issues,” CATC’s director Mariko Nagatomo said.

In other parts of the country, cable TV companies are actively encouraging locals to help produce TV programs. Chukai Cable Television System Operator in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, is one such company. The company is providing one of its channels to citizens and broadcasting their videos for free, as long as the videos do not violate copyright or public decency standards. —>

Building an Online Community
by Sarah Dawud
The Daily Californian

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, along with Oh Yeon Ho, the founder of OhmyNews, spoke about the role of online media and community to a small group last night at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Students listened to Wales talk about the importance of community, which he said must be maintained by continuously communicating norms and common values. “Most people like an environment where they are free to have a discussion and be respected,” he said. He added that the Wikimedia Foundation—the parent company of the popular online user-created encyclopedia—is planning to move from Florida to San Francisco.

Ho introduced his creation, OhmyNews, which serves the Korean community through about 50,000 citizen reporters. His site includes a live newscast with simultaneous reader comments. He said the main goal for the site, which was launched in 2000, is to encourage an “active community.” He added that education is important and that the OhmyNews is good way to imform citizens.

The talk was organized by the Center for Citizen Media, which is affiliated with the journalism school and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University Law School. Dan Gillmor, who teachers at the journalism school, said Wales and Ho were invited to campus for their contributions to the media world. “These guys are genuinely pioneers in online media and what they have done is extraordinary,” he said.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/30/07

May 30, 2007

Culver signs cable television expansion bill
Governor vetoes Missouri River panel changes
by Dan Gearino
Sioux City Journal (IA)

DES MOINES — Gov. Chet Culver closed the books on this year’s legislative session Tuesday, signing 11 bills, including a measure that will allow cable television providers to apply for the right to sell their services statewide.   —>

Perdue signs new laws, vetoes 41 bills
The Associated Press
Access North Georgia

>   Under the new cable law signed by Perdue, cable operators would be able to apply for a franchise through the state instead of having to go through the lengthy process of negotiating deals with individual counties and cities.  The measure was among the most heavily lobbied at the state Capitol this session, with AT&T leading the charge. The bill would make it easier for AT&T to debut television services to compete with cable providers. Consumer advocate say it could drive prices down….

AT&T, which purchased Atlanta-based BellSouth last year, was the largest contributor to Perdue’s inaugural fund. The company forked over $200,000 to help pay for the governor’s inaugural festivities in January.   —>

Ohio Senate Bill 117 is not “TV4US”
by Sibley Arnebeck
Common Cause Blog

SB 117, Ohio’s “state video franchising reform” bill is yet another business friendly scheme borrowed from Michigan.  A previous effort was the successful “buying” of (through illegally funded “issue ads”) a business friendly supreme court.  This time telco giants are spending large amounts of money through their phony “astroturf” front groups to advertise and lobby to “buy” legislation favorable to their shareholders, with no regard for their obligation to provide diversity of information and service to all of the people.   —>

Public has a right to know where bill proposals are coming from
by Stan Milan
Spooner Advocate (WI)

MADISON– It’s surprising even by Madison standards – the issue of whether lobbyists can review bill drafts when the drafts are still out of public view is still swirling around inside the Capitol.  Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager thought it was improper for lobbyists to have access to legislative documents, mainly bill drafts, when the public was barred from having the same access.  She felt strongly enough to sue Rep. Scott Gunderson (R-Waterford) and then-Sen. Dave Zien (R-Eau Claire) after they refused to share with her bill drafts relating to a concealed weapons bill in which the National Rifle Association had a hand…

By the way, if the suit is successful in stopping lobbyists’ access to confidential material, lobbyists will still write legislation. Does anyone believe that AT&T didn’t write the proposed anti-cable bill?  Let the lobbyists, special interest groups and constituents help write bills and bill drafts. The issue should be to let the public know who is participating in the process.   —>

PEGASYS facing financial shortfall
Enid News (OK)

PEGASYS board members had their 2006-07 budget ready for approval at their meeting Tuesday, but after hearing a proposal from City Manager Eric Benson, the board decided to wait to see if they will have any money to spend.  Executive Director Wendy Quarles said Benson’s proposal will cut city funding to the public-access television station by 33 percent, or $100,000, the next fiscal year and eliminate it totally in three years.

When asked, Benson did not say he would eliminate PEGASYS funding, but he said every city department is being examined closely, and every opportunity to save money will be studied.  He said nothing is off the table, and there are no “sacred cows.”…

“We looked at every single line item in the city and reviewed it for appropriateness, effectiveness. It’s not our budget. The city council makes it up,” he said.  Benson said the city is facing a $1 million bridge collapse repair that was not foreseen.   —>

Video Summer Camp open
Enid News (OK)

PEGASYS, Enid’s public access television station, is offering its fourth annual Video Summer Camp June 12-16.  The camp is geared toward students ages 12-17 and will include 40 hours of intensive, hands-on training covering all aspects of television production. As a final project, students will produce a video that will air on Suddenlink Cable Channel 11 throughout the summer.

“By the end of the week, each student will be able to include television producer on his or her resume,” said Wendy Quarles, PEGASYS executive director. “This will be a great learning experience, and they’ll have a lot of fun.”   —>

Welgraven a semifinalist in film competition
by Bob Williams
The Daily Journal (MN)

Alex Welgraven has been nominated as a semi-finalist in the Film Your Issue 2007 International Film Competition. Alex Welgraven, 19, of Fergus Falls, has been selected as a semi-finalist for a major international film competition for young people, Film Your Issue (FYI) 2007. An online voting platform on Yahoo! will end May 31 and will decide the winners for the next round. Locals are encouraged to vote online for the semi-finalist from their area or their favorite film.

Welgraven’s film, “Move Your Feet,” is one of 36 entries from around the globe from young adults 16 to 25 to be selected.  “I love film because of its ability to inspire people to act,” Welgraven said. “I chose to make this film because the world suffers from inaction. It is inaction that destroys the world.”

Welgraven is currently finishing his two-year degree at Minnesota State Community and Technical College-Fergus Falls. Next fall, he will be transferring to Minnesota State University, Moorhead, to major in film, with an emphasis in production.

“I’ve lived in Fergus Falls for the last couple of years, and my time here has a great deal of influence on my interest in film,” he said. “PEG Access Television made the equipment available with discounted memberships for students like myself. I owe a great deal to this facility.”  Aside from local equipment, Welgraven used the talents of local actors as well.   —>

The politics of online journalism
Polis – Journalism & Society

>   But Ros Taylor of Guardian Online said there was a danger of universalising.  Online reaction to events like 7/7, a kind of “Internet imperialism”, when in fact access to the internet is limited:  “It is a fantastic medium if you speak English, have the bandwidth, and are articulate. I would argue that online the most articulate are at the forefront of the content to the exclusion of others. We are English/UK/American centric in our discussions and we need to remember that there is a whole world that is not online.   —>

With the Decline of Traditional Journalism in California There is a Challenge
by Frank D. Russo
California Progress Report

A very thoughtful and mourning (no misspelling here) column appeared in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, “The Decline of News,” by Neil Henry a Professor of journalism at the University of California who was a correspondent for the Washington Post. I highly recommend reading this article, even though there are parts that I’m not sure I agree with.

The main point of Professor Henry’s article is that, with the decline of traditional journalism, we are losing “access to important news, gathered according to high standards.” He says that “increasingly it is highly skilled professional journalists committed to seeking the truth and reporting it, independently and without fear or favor” who are being let go by the “old” media. He takes as a given that this will and must result in a net loss, stating, “The fact is there will be nothing on YouTube, or in the blogosphere, or anywhere else on the Web to effectively replace the valuable work of those professionals. ” In short, we are left with “a society increasingly fractured, less informed by fact and more susceptible to political and marketing propaganda, cant and bias.”

… There are other media that have threatened the captains of the printing press. Television and radio were seen as upstarts in their infancy, and there were disputes by the Capital Correspondents Association here in California over whether they should be credentialed as “reporters.” While generally the broadcast media have given shorter glimpses into politics and public policy in this state and in the country, there are exceptions. CSPAN, the California Channel, public radio and television, and public access channels allow for longer and sometimes unfiltered content to be viewed or watched. —>

[ Sound familiar?  He could just as easily be describing community access channels. rm ]

The Blue Highways Journal
Dispatches from a Latter-Day Johnny Appleseed
by Jock Lauterer
The Carrboro Commons

Let’s get this straight: Newspapers are not vanishing. At least not my kind of newspapers.  Yes, many major metros are in a circulation free-fall. But not my guys. The small, local or what we call “community newspapers” – papers with circulations below 50k, many of them found off the interstates on the so-called “blue highways” of this nation – are doing very well, thank you.  In fact, these “relentlessly local” papers are so quietly successful that big-city papers have finally noticed and are copying them! Ex: pick up today’s N&O and count the number of local stories on the front page.


North Carolina has only eight papers that might be considered major metros – all the rest are “my peeps” (as my hip Carrboro daughter calls “her people”) – this includes the 192 weeklies and small dailies of the Old North State.  If you’re like me, numbers make your eyes glaze over. So I’ll make this quick. Of the 9,321 newspapers in the U.S. only 217 are considered “large.”  Now listen to this stat: statewide and nationwide 97 percent of our newspapers are SMALL PAPERS. And they reach almost three times as many readers as do “big” papers.

OK, enough math. Let’s cut to the chase.


Veteran Chapel Hill editor/professor Jim Shumaker used to demand that of his reporters when they pitched him a story: Tell me why this matters!

These are the papers that tell you when your garbage pick-up has changed, what the town council is up to, who’s going to be playing at quarterback this week, when the library will open, why the school board decided to adopt a year-round calendar, what’s for lunch at the school, who made the honor roll, when that road widening project will be done and how best to avoid traffic jams…

These are also the papers where many of our students get their first internships and many grads get their first jobs. Just looking at the sheer numbers, wouldn’t you think it’s the job of a great public university to service this industry?

That was my thinking when in 2001 we launched the Carolina Community Media Project as a way to help strengthen the state’s community papers – both rural and suburban. The real reason “Shu” would pay attention to my pitch: the better the community paper, the more likely it is that that community will have a vital civic life and a sense of pride in place – both keys to high livability in a free democratic society.  The better the paper; the better the community.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media